The media, stigma and support – Lin’s suicide bereavement story

Four years ago today 60-year-old Ray took his life, leaving his wife Lin and two children behind.

“He was always going out laughing and joking. He was always a joker. If someone is withdrawn then you might think they might be the type of person to do it, but because he wasn’t I think that’s why people found it so difficult.

“He would never have gone to the doctors. If he was feeling depressed he would never have talked about it. It’s a male thing with the pride: ‘No I’m alright, I don’t need to speak to anyone’ – he was very much like that. It’s that British stiff upper-lip,” Lin explains.

Now, four years on, Lin is moving out of the house that she had spent the final years of her life with Ray in – she still finds it hard to cope with his loss.

“I felt really cross at first because I thought… ‘how could you do that to our children?’. His grandson was only 6 months old and you think: ‘why? How could you do that?’ You go through a lot of different emotions. At first you’re just shocked. You did keep saying, ‘why did he do that to the children?’ Why would you want to do that? It’s really hard. You can’t understand it,” she explains.

After her loss, like so many others who are bereaved by suicide, Lin didn’t receive any postvention support.

“At the time I was in shock and we all were in shock. You don’t really know how badly you need the support,” she says.

Not only did she not receive any support other than from her family members, she was also faced with some shocking media coverage of her husband’s death. That’s why she wishes to only be referred to by her first name in this article.

The report of the death was national news and after being warned that the media would be attending the inquest, Lin decided not to attend as she was feeling “traumatised”.

Having never made a public statement about her husband’s death, she was shocked to see her words quoted in the national news.

“I can remember sitting at the table for an hour and a half with the policeman. He went through everything and that’s what went in the newspaper,” she says.

Lin was completely unaware that her words given to a police officer just hours after the death of her husband would be read out at the inquest and then reported in both the local and national news.

That wasn’t the end either, as one national newspaper ran an online story with pictures lifted from Lin’s Facebook page.

“I didn’t have protection on there so they took the photos. When I first saw them, those photos are out in my conservatory on the windowsill. I thought someone must have broken in and taken pictures of these photos. I could not get it in my head how they’d got them,” she explains.

Lin says the media coverage “definitely” added to her grief, that was already un-dealt with after no postvention support.

She also believes there is a stigma around being bereaved by suicide and found it hard to talk about after her husband’s death.

“If someone dies of cancer or heart disease you are surrounded by support for that. You can talk to other people. People just don’t talk about suicide as much,” she says.

When the subject of support groups was brought up, Lin was surprised to learn that they existed – emphasising the lack of communication and support offered to those left behind after suicide.

Thankfully, Lin has now got the number for her local SOBS support group and is considering going along to a session in the near future.

 

This story is part of The Forgotten Survivors investigation.

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